Tools of the Trade (Graphic Design)

As a graphic designer, it’s important to have the right tools for graphic design in order to create the best work for your clients. While Adobe is the industry standard for creative professionals, there are many open source software that are not only free to use, but perform the same tasks just as well — if not better. As a freelancer Adobe isn’t a must and you get to decide what works best for you. In fact, I have been using open-source software like GIMP and Inkscape for almost all of my projects with no major issues so far.

Here I’ll introduce the Adobe products, as well as some of the best open source alternatives that you can consider.

6 Tools for Graphic Design


But quality comes at a cost — the Adobe products are subscription-based, meaning that you have pay a monthly fee for each individual product. So if you were to subscribe to 2 apps, that amounts to around $40 a month. There is also a relatively more cost-effective plan called Creative Cloud, which bundles together around 20 of the most widely used apps like Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign for around $50 a month.

If you are just starting out as a graphic designer, consider getting Photoshop for image manipulation and Illustrator to create vector graphics. However, that would cost you around $60 a month even if you get a Creative Cloud membership, which may not be the most affordable for you. Does that mean you give up on becoming a graphic designer? Absolutely not. Let’s take a look at some of the open source alternatives you can use instead of the Adobe products.

✱ An open source software contains code that can be access and modified by anyone. Such projects promote collaboration and sharing. As such, they are usually free to use, with software-specific add-ons available to personalize your user experience.







✱ Vector graphics use mathematical equations to draw out lines and shapes, which can be scaled to any size without sacrificing image quality as well as maintain a small file size. 



As a graphic designer, part of your workflow usually involves sketching out ideas and concepts for a design. You can use the traditional method of pencil and paper to create your sketches, but oftentimes you will have to present them to the client, which might be an issue if you are working remotely. Of course there are workarounds such as a scanner or camera, but it can get tedious after a while.

In my case, I decided to go with a graphics tablet. It is a hardware input device that allows me to draw digitally using a stylus. It takes some practice to get used to drawing on a computer screen, but it’s definitely a useful skill to pick up, especially if you are looking to venture into digital illustration later on.

✱ The reason I included a graphics tablet here is that you will need it in order to make use of the open source software for sketching, which I will introduce below.



Based on my experience, even without Adobe you can still make do using the tools and open source software listed above to work online as a freelance graphic designer. Getting them is as easy as a click of the mouse, and the best part — you won’t need to spend a dime. So what are you waiting for?

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One response to “Tools of the Trade (Graphic Design)”

  1. Very good article . Thanks for your thoughts on this matter.

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